Chilean and Argentine Andes / Fuegian and Patagonian Andes: Dry and Wet Andes (Argentina, Chile)

Chilean and Argentine Andes / Fuegian and Patagonian Andes: Dry and Wet Andes (Argentina, Chile)

Thu, 07/29/2021 - 20:46

The Chilean Andes and Argentine Andes form most of the border between Chile and Argentina and make up the highest section of the Andes range. The Dry Andes and Wet Andes, along with the Patagonian Andes and Fuegian Andes, are climatic and glaciological subdivisons.

Chilean Andes and Argentine Andes

The Chilean Andes and Argentine Andes, part of the greater Andes mountain system, form most of the border between the countries of Chile and Argentina and make up the highest section of the mountain range.

The highest mountain in the Americas, Cerro Aconcagua, stands here at 6,961 m (22,838 ft) asl in the province of Mendoza, Argentina.

The landscape of these mountains, along the border between Chile and Argentina, is dominated by volcanoes and associated landforms.

In the high Andes of central Chile and Mendoza Province, rock glaciers are larger and more common than glaciers; this is due to the high exposure to solar radiation.

The Andes mountains play a strong role in both Chile and Argentina's weather, with the two sides of the Andes exhibiting strong climatic differences.

Significant mountain peaks of the Chilean Andes include:

  • Monte San Valentin, 4,058 m (13,314 ft)

  • Cerro Paine Grande, 2,884 m (9,462 ft)

  • Cerro Macá, c.2,300 m (7,546 ft)

  • Monte Darwin, c.2,500 m (8,202 ft)

  • Volcan Hudson, c.1,900 m (6,234 ft)

  • Cerro Castillo Dynevor, c.1,100 m (3,609 ft)

  • Mount Tarn, c.825 m (2,707 ft)

  • Polleras, c.5,993 m (19,662 ft)

  • Acamarachi, c.6,046 m (19,836 ft)

Significant mountain peaks of the Argentine Andes include:

  • Aconcagua, 6,961 m (22,838 ft) - the highest mountain in the Americas

  • Cerro Bonete, 6,759 m (22,175 ft)

  • Galán, 5,912 m (19,396 ft)

  • Mercedario, 6,720 m (22,047 ft)

  • Pissis, 6,795 m (22,293 ft)

Significant mountain peaks on the border between Argentina and Chile include:

  • Cerro Bayo, 5,401 m (17,720 ft)

  • Cerro Fitz Roy, 3,405 m (11,171 ft), also known as Cerro Chaltén

  • Cerro Escorial, 5,447 m (17,871 ft)

  • Cordón del Azufre, 5,463 m (17,923 ft)

  • Falso Azufre, 5,890 m (19,324 ft)

  • Incahuasi, 6,620 m (21,719 ft)

  • Lastarria, 5,697 m (18,691 ft)

  • Llullaillaco, 6,739 m (22,110 ft)

  • Maipo, 5,264 m (17,270 ft)

  • Marmolejo, 6,110 m (20,046 ft)

  • Ojos del Salado, 6,893 m (22,615 ft)

  • Olca, 5,407 m (17,740 ft)

  • Sierra Nevada de Lagunas Bravas, 6,127 m (20,102 ft)

  • Socompa, 6,051 m (19,852 ft)

  • Nevado Tres Cruces, 6,748 m (22,139 ft) - south summit, III Region

  • Tronador, 3,491 m (11,453 ft)

  • Tupungato, 6,570 m (21,555 ft)

  • Nacimiento, 6,492 m (21,299 ft)

The Chilean Andes and Argentine Andes can be divided into two climatic and glaciological zones: the Dry Andes and the Wet Andes. The Wet Andes can be further divided geographically, into the Patagonian Andes and Fuegian Andes.

Fuegian Andes

The Fuegian Andes are the southernmost subdivison of the Wet Andes and the overall Andes mountain system. They begin on Estados Island, the eastern point of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago where they reach approximatley 1,100 m 3,700 ft asl. They then run west through Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego where they reach approximately 2,400 m (7,900 ft) in elevation.

In the Fuegian Andes, glacial action and wind have created large areas of bare rock. Peat bogs, acidic and meadow soils with thiick humus layers are found here and soil drainage is poor.

Patagonian Andes

The Patagonian Andes rise just north of the Strait of Magellan. Numerous transverse and longitudinal depressions and breaches cut this wild and rugged portion of the Andes, sometimes completely; many ranges are occupied by ice fields, glaciers, rivers, lakes or fjords.

The Patagonian Andes occupy approximately 300,000 sq km (115,800 sq mi). The highest point is Cerro San Velentin at 4,058 m (13,314 ft) asl.

Dry Andes

The Dry Andes is a climatic and glaciological subregion of the Andes mountain system. Together with the Wet Andes, it is one of the two subregions of the Argentine and Chilean Andes.

The Dry Andes extend from the Atacama Desert in northern Chile and northwest Argentina, south to a latitude of 35°S in Chile: the area of the Maule River in the Central Valley. In Argentina the Dry Andes reaches 40°S due to the leeward effect of the Andes.

Though precipitation increases with height, semiarid conditions persist in the nearly 7,000 m (23,000 ft) mountains of the Andes. This dry steppe climate is considered to be of the subtropic type at 32-34° S. In the valley bottoms only dwarf scrubs grow.

The largest glaciers, e.g. the Plomo glacier and the Horcones glacier, do not reach 10 km (6.2 mi) in length and the ice thickness is not very significant. During glacial times however, c. 20,000 years ago, the glaciers were over ten times longer.

Wet Andes

The Wet Andes is one of the two subregions of the Argentine and Chilean Andes. The Wet Andes run from a latitude of 35°S in Chile (40°S in Argentina) to Cape Horn at 56°S.

The Wet Andes can be classified as the absense of penitentes (snow formations found at high altitudes) which take the form of elongated, thin blades of hardened snow or ice, closely spaced and pointing towards the general direction of the sun. In Argentina, well-developed penitentes can be found as south as the Lanín Volcano (40°S).

The glaciers of the Wet Andes have far more stability than those of the Dry Andes due to summer precipitation, low thermal oscillation and an overall high moisture level.

Map of the climatic regions of the Andes

Map of the climatic regions of the Andes: Dry Andes in yellow, Wet Andes in blue and Tropical Andes in green